September 2010 Archives

My friend's death has left me shaken. Beyond shaken.  One minute we're swapping texts and he likes my Facebook status. A few hours later he's dead.

Death is hard to comprehend no matter what but unexpected death? Unfathomable.  Twenty four hours later after finding out and I am still sitting here lost and confused and scratching my head trying to understand something which makes no sense.  And if it's this hard for me, I can't being to imagine what it must be like for his children.  

Just as I was beginning to get back to being me after a very dark period, I am once again knocked on my ass. Hard. 

I woke up this morning with a case of the Mean Reds.  At 5am I jolted awake feeling terrified.  The thing is: I don't know what I am afraid of. I know I am loved. And I know that I am not alone.  And I know that my life, while challenging at times, is also rich and full and that I am fortunate.  So what?  What am I afraid of?

I manage my solitude pretty well most days.  But this morning? This morning I wanted like Hell for another body to be in the bed. I wanted to be close. I wanted to feel safe. Right now - I just feel lost. 

I am working from home today which means I don't have the distraction of an office or coworkers to chase me out of my own head. I am left alone in this still, silent house with thousands of thoughts swirling restlessly in my brain.  I am crawling out of my own skin.

I have a bad case of the Mean Reds and there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

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I woke up this morning to discover that a friend has unexepectedly and without warning died.  I found out via Facebook when I checked on his page to see what he's been up to since he's been quiet as of late. Instead of seeing a status update cheering on his beloved Georgia Bulldogs, I saw RIP.


At first it didn't make sense and I thought that perhaps I had misread something. But no.  I read correctly.  My friend, not even 50, is gone.


I don't know what happened and it will likely be several hours before our mutual friend, who lives in California, is awake and can fill me in on the details. Until then I am left here wondering and trying to make sense of something that honestly, makes no sense at all.

Life is fleeting and can be snatched from us without warning. 

So hug your loved ones extra close today.

Remind those who are close to you that you care.

Make choices that matter.


"Life tells you nothing, it shows you everything."


Today, Life reminded me not to take anyone or anything for granted. 


Rest in Peace my sweet friend.

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I wish life offered us more occasions to wear big hats because honestly, they make the world a happier, prettier place...

Big hats and Football.jpg 


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Today is Yom Kippur - the holiest day of the Jewish year.  It's the day when we atone for our sins and our transgressions and ask God to forgive us and reinscribe us in the Book of Life.

It's a pretty big deal, and when I say atone, I mean we atone - and not in a silent prayer kind of way.  We don't go around in a circle and confess to individual sins and transgressions or anything - but as a congregation we out loud acknowledge our shortcomings, acknowledge our failures with the Al Chet

Ten times over the course of 2 days we say the Al Chet and confess our sins.

"For the sin which we have committed before You under duress or willingly."

"And for the sin which we have committed before You by hard-heartedness."

"For the sin which we have committed before You inadvertently."

Those are the first 3. There are 44 total.  The thing is, as our not-quite-rabbi pointed out (I belong to a super-small congregation and we don't technically have a rabbi, we have a lay leader, but he's as learned as any rabbi I've ever met so I consider it a minor technicality), the majority of sins we acknowledge are verbal. Sins of the mouth as it were.  

This struck me since recently, I've been thinking about words. Specifically - are actions truly louder than words? I want to say yes - I want to say that the demonstration of a feeling means so much more than just saying it. But words aren't without power.

Words can be whittled and honed until they are sharply pointed daggers ready to pierce and draw blood at the slightest provocation.

Words can cut. Deep.

Words can play on every fear and insecurity we have and leave us riddled with doubt and more fear and more insecurity.

Words - very simply - can hurt. 

I know because I've had words used against me before and let me tell you: sticks and stones may break my bones and YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT THAT CALLING ME NAMES WILL HURT ME MOTHERFUCKER.

I also know because apparently I am a ninja with words myself and I can turn the most basic combination of vowels and consonants into a verbal nunchucks and hurl it directly at a dear friend. Which basically makes me an asshole. A nunchucks-wielding ninja - but an asshole nonetheless. 

I said the Al Chet last night.  I'll say it again several times throughout today.  And I can assure you, when I get to this one:

"For the sin which we have committed before You by wronging a friend"

I will truly be asking for forgiveness. From God. And my friend. I hope that by asking for forgiveness twice I am not pushing my luck. 

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"Why bother to live an unhappy life?"

That was my daily dose of a zen a few days ago, and it's stuck with me because let's be honest, why bother?

Am I living an unhappy life? No. But am I living my most happy life? No. 

My life is certainly good, bordering on great, and anyone who has asked in the last few months has gotten the same upbeat response about how WONDERFUL and TERRIFIC everything is and work is great and I am making changes - good changes - and I am excited and there's opportunity and I am making progress on the house and I have amazing friends whom I truly cherish and in general I feel fortunate and blessed and I can't really complain and OMG DON'T YOU WANT TO SHOOT ME?

The thing is, all of the above statements are true. My life? It's not bad.   

What I don't talk about is what's missing. I don't talk about the loneliness that still plagues me or the fears of being alone. And while I will tell anyone who asks that I don't really care about dating, there's a very big part of me that aches to have someone to share things with.  This past year was needed: I needed to be reminded that I can, in fact, take care of myself.  That I can be strong and independent and make decisions. That I don't need anyone else to get by. 

But more and more, I am beginning to believe that it would be nice to come home to more than my cliche cat. I might not need anyone else, but it sure as hell would be nice to sit down with someone, share a glass of wine, and talk about the quotidian details of our days.  It would be nice to fall asleep to the sound of someone else's breathing and not just the lonely whir of the ceiling fan.  It would be nice to fall asleep in someone else's arms.   

I tell myself that I am better off this way: that taking care of myself and building up my self-confidence will make me a better partner for someone down the road.  And maybe it's true. But in the here and now? I long for more.

Then again, today's daily dose of zen was: "Listen to your life. It's showing you everything you need to know about who you can become."

Maybe I just need to listen harder.

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I never quite know what to say.

Should I tell you that I was there? That I heard the first plane crash? That I felt the explosion? Should I write about the chaos that followed? The not knowing what was happening?

Would you like to hear about how I stared in disbelief at the flaming hole where Windows on the World used to be? Where I had dined less than a month before?

It was a show in some ways.  All of us on the ground, necks craned, looking up.  Looking up at the flames. Eyes glued to the incomprehensible. But it wasn't a show. Watching someone jump out of a window isn't entertainment.

Do you see why I never quite know what to say?

What if I had stayed put? What if I had turned right instead of left? What if I had walked into the madness instead of away from it?

Should I tell you about the second plane? About hearing it approach? About turning around and witnessing history? Witnessing Hell?

I'll confess to you that I knew. I knew as soon as a I turned around and saw the second plane make contact that these acts were intentional, and suddenly I understood the true meaning of terror.

What else is there to tell you after that?

Never forget? How could I?

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I am a twice-a-year kind of Jew. That is, I only go to synagogue twice a year: on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Oh every year I tell myself that I will start going more: that I'll attend Shabbat services on Friday nights or listen to the Torah being read on Saturdays; that I'll celebrate other holidays like Purim and Sukkot and Simcah Torah. And every year I seem to not find the time and suddenly another year has passed and I've been to temple twice.

Still - sometimes twice is enough. 

I read the following during High Holiday services last year and jotted it down: 

O Source of Mercy, give us the grace to show forbearance to those who offend against us. When the wrongs and injustices of others wound us, may our hearts not despair of human good. May no trial however severe embitter our souls and destroy our trust. When beset by trouble and sorrow, our mothers and fathers put on the armor of faith and fortitude. May we too find strength to meet adversity with quiet courage and unshaken will.

It spoke to me then, it speaks to me now, and it has spoken to me throughout what has been a not-so-easy year. It's a reminder to have faith and to stay strong. It's timeless.

Speaking of having faith and staying strong, I was cleaning out some files the other day and randomly stumbled upon this email which my Dad sent me seven years ago:

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.  Finally he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed shovels and began to throw dirt into the well.

At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well, and was astonished at what he saw.  With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up.


Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!


Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping-stone. We can get out of the deepest wells by just not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!


Remember the five simple rules to being happy:


1. Free your heart from hatred.

2. Free your mind from worries.

3. Live simply.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less.




Later the donkey came back and kicked the shit out of the farmer who tried to bury him.


MORAL: When you try to cover your ass, it always comes back to get you.

Because Ass humor is ALWAYS timeless.

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Life has kicked me in the ass. Hard.  So hard it's flat done knocked me over. So until I can catch my breath and find my voice, I am relying on someone else's.


Phenomenal Woman
by Maya Angelou


Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size

But when I start to tell them,

They think I'm telling lies.

I say,

It's in the reach of my arms

The span of my hips,

The stride of my step,

The curl of my lips.

I'm a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That's me.


I walk into a room

Just as cool as you please,

And to a man,

The fellows stand or

Fall down on their knees.

Then they swarm around me,

A hive of honey bees.

I say,

It's the fire in my eyes,

And the flash of my teeth,

The swing in my waist,

And the joy in my feet.

I'm a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That's me.


Men themselves have wondered

What they see in me.

They try so much

But they can't touch

My inner mystery.

When I try to show them

They say they still can't see.

I say,

It's in the arch of my back,

The sun of my smile,

The ride of my breasts,

The grace of my style.

I'm a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That's me.


Now you understand

Just why my head's not bowed.

I don't shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud.

When you see me passing

It ought to make you proud.

I say,

It's in the click of my heels,

The bend of my hair,

the palm of my hand,

The need of my care,

'Cause I'm a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That's me.

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